SUNDAY 1 September 15:00

“...opening a whole new repertoire of classical guitar music.”

Derek Gripper is no newcomer to Brooklyn Theatre and has played several interesting recitals and also performed in concerto with the Gauteng Philharmonic Orchestra. His large collection of innovative CD recordings have sold well over the years, in the iSalon CD & DVD store in Brooklyn Mall, as well as at Brooklyn Theatre.

For this recital, patrons can look forward to a fine selection of original guitar works, as well as some striking arrangements of works by other composers.


Bach Sonata in G Minor (arranged Derek Gripper)
Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Part (arranged Derek Gripper)
Toumani Diabate Four Movements from Kaira (new arrangement by Derek Gripper)

Works by Ali Farka Toure, Salif Keita, Baaba Maal, Madosini and Ballaké Sissoko. And a selection of new and old compositions by Derek Gripper.

“Five stars…Gripper has brilliantly transferred [the kora] repertoire onto a regular six string guitar. He sees [Toumani] Diabaté as the Segovia, or indeed John Williams, of the kora, championing it as a solo instrument. And Gripper brilliantly takes it back to the guitar. He’s opening a whole new repertoire of classical guitar music…bringing African guitar into the classical mainstream.” [Simon Broughton]

“Gripper has cracked it…his playing has a depthless beauty, which does full justice to the complexity of Toumani’s compositions. To do so without any hint of the music being dumbed down is a staggering achievement on solo guitar.” [Nigel Williamson, Songlines Magazine]

“More than a labour of love, Gripper has brought a new purity to the dream-like improvisatory nature of these compositions. My recording of the year, so far!” [Tim Panting, Classical Guitar Magazine]

”The result is astounding, not just for its technical brilliance, but its musicality. Gripper executes these pieces with the precision and attention to detail one might expect from a great classical musician…It’s hard to imagine a more impressive and passionate rendering of Malian music on classical guitar.” [Banning Eyre, Afropop Worldwide]

“A true synthesis and a great album.” [Ian Kearey, Roots]

Ticket sales:

Sunday, 1 September 15:00

Block A (Adult) - R200   Block B (Adult) - R140
Block A (Senior 60+) / Student (21-) - R160   Block B (Senior 60+) / Student (21-) - R100


Brooklyn Theatre (012 460 6033)
Greenlyn Village Centre
C/o Thomas Edison and 13th Streets
Menlo Park

Derek Gripper is a classical guitarist who has taken a unique path. As a South African classical musician he found limited by the music of the traditional classical guitar and so went on a journey through different musical styles, returning always to the guitar to find ways of bringing what he learned onto the instrument.

It took Derek Gripper untold hours of painstaking work to transcribe note-for-note the complex compositions of Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté and find a way of playing them on six-string guitar. The results appeared on his ninth album, One Night on Earth, recorded with an orchestra of crickets (who he didn’t invite). The album created an unprecedented meeting point between the written tradition of Western classical music and the oral tradition of the West African griots.

Critical acclaim was quick to follow. Classical guitar legend John Williams said he thought it was “absolutely impossible until I heard Derek Gripper do it” and was really pleased that somebody was playing new music on the classical guitar. Toumani Diabaté himself asked for confirmation that it was indeed just one person playing one guitar which delighted Derek who had considered giving up music when he first heard Diabate’s multi layered solo recordings.

Both invited Derek to collaborate with them: Derek performed with Williams in London’s Shakespeare’s Globe and King’s Place, and with Diabaté and his Symmetric Orchestra at the Acoustik Festival Bamako, Mali. He also played with Trio da Kali at Carnegie Hall and won a Songlines Award for the best album in Africa and the Middle East. Derek tours regularly in the USA, Canada, Britain, Europe, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Namibia, Australia, Malaysia, India and Mali.

Derek has created his music out of a small cluster of diverse influences. His guitar playing owes a lot to the guitar style create by Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti. From Gismonti Derek gets his love of timbre, pulsing drones in different parts of the guitar and epic sonic scope. Unlike Gismonti, however, Derek’s harmonic language does not come from jazz and classical music, but rather from the music of Africa: Mali, Senegal, The Gambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe…a language which Derek learned by painstakingly transcribing works by some of these country’s greatest performers: Toumani Diabaté, Ali Farka Touré, Salif Keita, Amadou Bansang Jobarteh, Baaba Maal, Madosini, Chiwoniso etc. The thread of these difference musical styles and approaches to guitar playing are held together by a vision Derek had in India in 1997.

He thought it would be great to do what Keith Jarrett did in his solo piano concerts. Derek imaged a guitar player that could improvise for over an hour without boring his listeners to tears. He imagined the guitar being retuned and reinvented, as the music unfolded, and the result being a music as symphonic and intimate as Jarrett’s series of solo piano concert recordings.

As time went on this seemed a little optimistic for a mere six string guitar, but at recent concerts and recording sessions (The CNN Session, The North Vancouver Session, for example) Derek realised that this forgotten idea was starting to take form.